Ministerial Statement - Security of Payment for Subcontractors

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MINISTERIAL STATEMENT

Security of Payment for Subcontractors

30 November

This morning the Premier announced that the Palaszczuk Labor government will take unprecedented and historic action to secure payment for subbies and tradies across this great state. This Labor government will make sure that subbies get paid in full, on time and every time. By making sure that subcontractors are paid in full, on time and every time, we are putting construction back on the level in this state. This will deliver job security for the hundreds of thousands of tradies employed by those subbies across this state. Our suite of security payment reforms will unlock small business investment, creating jobs and spurring economic activity in regional economies across Queensland.

Our government will put construction back on the level. We are backing in our state’s 69,000 small business subcontractors who sit at the heart of our $44 billion construction industry. As the Premier said, this reform has been a long time coming for the construction industry. In the words of Les 4680 Ministerial Statements 30 Nov 2016 Williams of the Subcontractors Alliance, ‘It’s a hundred and forty years in the making,’ and in all that time, so much damage has been done to subbies and tradies and their families. Marriages have busted up. People have lost their homes and have been left living in their cars. Heartbreakingly, in some circumstances the consequences have been much more tragic than that.

On Sunday I stood with John Belden and Kylie McIlroy, who are here in the gallery today, who run a bricklaying and scaffolding company in Townsville. I stood with them to unveil the Deloitte report into security of payment reform in Queensland. John and Kylie have lost $390,000 in nonpayment since October 2013. I know, and we recognise, that they have struggled with what has been a very difficult time. John told me that if he could just ensure that he got paid for all of the work that his business had done they would have employed more staff and invested more in their own business and in purchasing more equipment. However, he knows that unscrupulous parts of the industry are using nonpayment of subbies as a business model to undercut the competition; they are pricing it in. Unfortunately, so are John and Kylie and other subbies across the state. They are holding off on creating jobs knowing that one day inevitably—it could be tomorrow—they will get shafted, too. Valuable local economic investment is drying up. According to the Deloitte report, comprehensive action on security of payment could increase employment in Queensland by 1,089 full-time jobs in average annual terms, increasing gross state product by up to $6.42 billion over 20 years. This Palaszczuk Labor government is backing people like ‘Beldo’ and Kylie to be the drivers of the state economy and the construction industry.

We are preparing legislation to introduce project bank accounts on all construction projects over $1 million, commencing 1 January 2019. We will be setting a foundation for these reforms by commencing those project bank accounts on all government projects between $1 million and $10 million from 1 January 2018. Our reform package will also include comprehensive changes to the Building and Construction Industry Payments Act, levelling the playing field for subbies in disputes. This is comprehensive reform, and I table the reform package, the building plan, for the benefit of the House. Tabled paper: Department of Housing and Public Works: Queensland Building Plan, A discussion paper for industry and consumers [2178].

Our historic reforms will benefit all Queenslanders, they will strengthen our economy and they will put the construction industry on the level. Even if the economic impact of these changes was zero, they would still, fundamentally, be the right thing to do. Too many kids have seen their parents separate under the extreme financial pressure of nonpayment. Too many hardworking tradies have lost their jobs as subcontractors have gone bankrupt after being left carrying the can from insidious prepackaged insolvencies. Too many subbies have been tormented by their own thoughts and anxieties in the small hours of the morning.

This is an economic issue; it is a business issue; but, most importantly, it is a moral issue. It is a matter of family values. We believe that if people do the work they should be paid, and in Queensland they will. They will be paid in full, on time and every time. That is why I call on all members of this place to back the painters, plumbers, concreters, scaffolders, landscapers, sparkies, glaziers and roofers— all of the men and women who run the small businesses and those who work in them that drive our building industry—and support our reforms to put construction back on the level.

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